Friday, May 4, 2012

Prince Valiant

I took a break after yard work/writing work/wife in the hospital (she's doing very well) etc etc and saw coming up on HBO (which I have for Game of Thrones) that a Prince Valiant movie was coming up in an hour.

I watched a Prince Valiant movie when I was a kid-I remember that I liked it-but don't know that I could actually recall much of anything about it-I barely followed the daily comics-but as much as I like love comics I found the medium of a daily strip tedious-and Lord help you if you miss a few days.

But I flipped to the channel and LO! Ron Perlman looking as scruffy as ever-this Prince was filmed in 97'!

How did I miss this? I thought I had seen every old fantasy movie there was to see-at least everything predating the millennium-(still haven't watched Name of the King). I honestly thought well it must be because it sucked-but I still want to watch it. So I did, and I was pleasantly surprised.

It has breaks which feature Hal Foster's original art-but I didn't find that technique disturbing, if anything it just speeds us along to get to the action. I thought the cinematography was fine and the costumes were most excellent-often making me feel like some characters looked so grand that when you didn't see them in action you felt disappointed-there was actually a female viking packing some kind of dragons head flame thrower-AND she was clearly wearing some type of medieval garter beneath her armor-WHAT?!?

Don't get me wrong-this is a romanticized fantasy movie, it is not meant to take itself too seriously-it has Joanna Lumley as Morgan LeFay for crying out loud (my wife knows who that is-AB FAb and a Bond Girl) and that Arthurian romantic ideal is probably what made me like it so much-daring heroes and dastardly villains are a nice break from some of the grimmer things of late. This was exactly the type of enjoyable Sword & Sorcery movie that I am inclined to think most of my regular readers/commentators will enjoy.

The director Anthony Hickox (also plays Sir Gwain) typically does horror films (Waxwork, Warlock, one of the Hellraisers) maybe that's why he had a few good spots of tension and some interesting homages. In the beginning when Morgan LeFay and the bad vikings are digging up Merlin-his shriveled body looks like Nicol Williamson-bizarre shiny steel headplate and all. One of the marauding vikings is clearly wearing one of the elongated skull helms that Halfdan the Black's (John Cleese's character) guardsmen wear in Eric the Viking.

Starring Stephen Moyer (I don't really know who that is) Katherine Heigel, Udo Kier, Warwick Davis, and Ron Perlman I was pretty happy with the performances and fight scenes-with the exception of Prince Valiant, for being a good fighter he made a lot of very clumsy moves that should have gotten him killed.

So aside from thinking some characters were underutilized Warwick Davis for one-and that it had a forgettable soundtrack-this was a pretty decent movie. Light on any blood or gore despite the violence and some sensuality but nothing I'm worried about having my kids watch with me again later (I DVRed it).
I recommend checking it out for what it is.

And its funny because I was just recently lamenting that they don't make fantasy movies like they used to in the 80's-but apparently they still did in 97'.


Paul R. McNamee said...

Sounds like good rainy Saturday fodder.

David J. West said...

Exactly Paul, exactly.

Charles Gramlich said...

I vaguely remember hearing something about this but it had totally slipped my mind. Loved the comic strip.

David J. West said...

Yeah Charles, now I want to go and get a collection.

Bruce D. said...

Stephen Moyer? Guess you don't watch 'True Blood' :). And not only was Joanna Lumley a Bond girl, she starred in the second coming of 'The Avengers'. Not THOSE Avengers, but the John Steed Avengers. Anyway, good review. I'll have to keep an eye out for that one.

David J. West said...

Yeah Bruce I have not watched True Blood, and I missed that Avengers second run.